Thursday, July 22, 2010


Terri's comment under Tribalism and Christianity-Continued should be read, for those who don't follow threads that far. What she describes, may I be so bold, is something like Postconservatism. Even without reading that, you can likely intuit some of it from my post in response.

I feel your pain, sister. I sent my sons to Christian - Baptist, really - schools for at least part of their educations, and encountered many folks much as you describe, including the schools themselves. I was always conscious of having to counteract certain attitudes, both religious and political, without encouraging my children to be smartasses who challenged everything and developed an attitude of contempt. The trickiness of this differs at different ages. When they were younger, I didn't want to undermine the classroom teacher, who was often doing excellent things for my child's education. When they were older, the first two children in particular had enough intelligence and general knowledge that they could have become intellectual bullies had that been allowed - including, in some cases, with the teacher. My giving them assistance in the background would have enabled this attitude. And most of all, they had to do their own thinking and come to their opinions themselves. As I am a dominant conversationalist - more than just talking too much - I was already in danger of overinfluencing.

So I also know these folks, and should fairly point out, if they were in charge of us in this culture war I would have much to object to with them as well. At the moment, I think the Christian social conservatives would be greatly relieved at eliminating all late-term abortions and most earlier ones, forbidding gay marriage, not being actively undermined by curricula in the teaching of evolution and sex education, and allowing more public religious expression, especially in the schools. But most of them would no longer want to return teacher-led prayer, or teaching 6D creationism exclusively, or any of the other dire predictions of their opponents. Some would. I know some. Not enough to make it happen, because even conservative Christians would balk at a lot of that.

But however much people dislike any of those things and wouldn't want to live under them, it's a limited list, and we have essentially lived under it most of our national existence anyway. The worry would come if those goals were achieved, because human beings have a way of finding one more thing they would like to make it all perfect. So were those folks in power, they might also start grasping - no, they would start grasping, because that's what humans do.

There are groups and pockets in America where this sort of society-wide strictness was enforced, so there are certainly people who would do this if they could. But key point number one, they can't. Even the Puritans could only sustain it for a century under highly unusual circumstances: people were bonded by common hardship; people could move away if they chose. People drank in Kentucky even with dry counties. Mormons changed over the years despite owning a whole state.

But it is the second key point that keeps me focused on the tribalism, arrogance, and incompetence of liberals. They're running the joint. We're in no danger of preachers, let alone evangelical preachers, ruling the country, not even by proxy through congregants. Calvinist Switzerland isn't anywhere on the horizon. But the government, spending our money and telling us what to do, is increasingly ruled by a set of people of very similar social and economic beliefs.

I agree that there was little that was brand new in Codevilla, and also that he gets his own personal hobbyhorses mixed in with a general description. And I would add that he needs a good highschool English teacher to edit that sucker down to about one-third its length. But he refined many of these culture war ideas into a framework that has explanatory power.

There is a further point. There is actually a long line of culture warriors complaining way back that their values weren't represented. And they were right, their ideas weren't being taken seriously. In many cases, that's a good thing, too. But the number of Americans whose views aren't being taken seriously by those who call the shots is ever-expanding. In contrast to leadership in business, or the military, or churches, which continue to allow for a certain social mobility and meritocracy, the levers of power in government, in lobbying, in secular non-profit and advocacy groups, and in media has been increasingly dominated by a self-reinforcing elite. It is no longer just the cranks who are excluded. As the media dominance is eroded by alt-media, we see the really frightening viciousness that those who have power display when it is taken away. Those people are no worse in this than most other folks would be in the same situation. But the damage is real nonetheless.


terri said...

I think post-conservative would probably fit as long as it isn't equated with "liberal".

I hold some conservative views, but they are more likely to be mixed with other less conservative views.

I was up for giving health care a try, not because I want a socialist government, but because they way things are done now are just crazy and to an average family purchasing health care the cost of insurance is so high that I am beginning to wonder if it wouldn't be economically better to have a public option.

Two birds, one stone.

Right now, I am unhappy with what got passed because I do have the conservative stance, that the government shouldn't be able to force a person to buy a product from a third-party. I don't see how that is going to hold up legally.

I also think it will be a disaster in the making, because insurance companies are going to be guaranteed many more customers, and because there is no competition in the market, they will have no incentive to cut health care prices.

Anyway....I have become post-conservative in the sense that I am more open to trying something new, instead of having already decided that govt. is bad all the time.

Sam L. said...

And this is where we are with the comprehensive reform of health care--we had a committee of 1000 (or 10K or 100K) putting together this mess of pottage (too many cooks...writ, not just large, not just humongus, but downright ginormous.)